By CHRIS AGEE
City Manager Lance Howerton said local government is ready to present a fact-based campaign to the legislature in favor of keeping the CCA facility open.
“I think I can speak for the city organizations and the entire community that we were very disappointed this has been the direction this issue is going in the state senate,” he said. “Our feeling is this is not a decision based on any factual information but is more of a politically motivated decision.”
While he said some locals following the story might not see local officials openly speaking out, Howerton said they are making their case in a more appropriate forum.
“We’re not going to fight this battle in the news media,” he said, explaining the city will be “dealing directly with legislators, showing them the benefits of continuing the contract with the CCA, explaining there is “a lot of work being done behind the scenes.”
Howerton alluded to a “big battle being waged that the public won’t see every day.”
Included in the city’s argument against the senate committee’s decision are statistics showing the local facility’s effectiveness.
“We are disappointed the senate has taken this action,” he said. “We don’t think it’s the proper action and don’t think it’s good policy for the state of Texas. We believe we can demonstrate that, based on the performance of this facility.”
Through direct contact with the state legislature, Howerton said the city will “do everything we can to provide evidence it’s good for the citizens and taxpayers of Texas,” adding the prison is “more cost effective and has performed very well over the approximately 25 years this facility has been in operation.”
Because this issue has not been resolved, he said city leaders will use the opportunity to reach the state representatives capable of reversing the decision.
“We’re going to continue to work very closely with our legislative delegation,” he said. “This is going to be an issue we are going to deal with and the outcome will be based on what happens in the legislature.”
He said the city has already partnered with CCA in the joint mission to maintain operations at the facility.
“We’re in virtually constant communication with CCA’s representative in Austin who is working diligent, on a daily basis, with members of the legislation,” he said.